TFL's failed electric car towing experiment — a caveat about green energy

© 2019 Peter Free


31 October 2019



YouTube's "The Fast Car Lane" is not a confrontational channel


Yet, it quietly said something important about vehicular energy sources, here:



The Fast Car Lane, Teslas Can't Tow Across Country — Watch Us Try and Fail!, YouTube (16 September 2016)



The gist of the above video . . .


. . . revolved around trying to tow a 2,000 pound (909 kilogram) adventure trailer from Boulder County (Colorado) to Portland (Oregon) with an electric Tesla X.


Roman Mica and his son, Tommy, demonstrated that the Tesla tows really well.


The problem, over long distances, was the immense energy burden that towing places on an electric vehicle's battery capacity. Especially so, when the haul takes place at speeds (and in the manner) that gasoline and diesel work vehicles regularly operate.



The Tesla's energy consumption display screen . . .


. . . made it clear just how much extra power towing (and other heavy work) requires.


The Micas demonstrated that dragging the small trailer over Wyoming's Interstate 80 — at or near its 75 to 80 mph speed limit — drained the batteries so quickly that rapidly repetitive charging times were necessary to keep the car underway.


These fueling intervals much extended the duration of the journey. See the video at 05:20 minutes.


And because this region has so few charging stations, it is possible to run out of "juice" before each segment of the trip is completed.


Becoming stranded or missing normally achievable arrival deadlines is the result.





Economically speaking, there is no enticing economic incentive, in most of the American west, to add Tesla-like charging stations to existing gasoline refueling outlets. Due to western US distances, proportionately few people drive electric vehicles here.


Metaphorically — admittedly with some exaggeration — EVs hardly have the range necessary to get out of western town and come back.


Second, green energy does not yet compete well with fossil fuels in providing readily accessible, massive work output.


If you go back to the TFL video, you will notice the dramatic "hits" that increasing the electric tow vehicle's workload had upon its range. The same will, as of yet, be true for electric trucks.


Gasoline and diesel vehicles experience similar load debits, but the energy density of their fossil fuels makes those demands easier to live with.



The moral? — For heavy work, EV batteries still do not come close to competing with fossil fuel


And if you look at details of battery production, you may modify your previously favorable impression regarding about how environmentally responsible the "electric green" idea is for many work purposes.


Overall, I am skeptical about the feasibility of making comparatively instantaneous energy paradigm shifts. Like those climate catastrophists are calling for.


Even if humanity were not the irrationally obtuse and habituated creatures that we are, such a dramatic change in infrastructure is probably not yet in Physics' or Economics' realms of efficiently delivered possibility.


Technologic reality, and a planetary load of 8 billion humans, are fantasy-crushing taskmasters.


Societal complacence is not the only obstacle we face.